April 16, 2019
Hiring for Culture


Blog > Hiring for Culture

Employees that fit well with a cultural identity and see the potential to accomplish meaningful work had superior job performance and greater overall job satisfaction.

According to a survey of recruiters, 84% of them agree that cultural fit -- not the time and cost to hire for a specific role -- is one of the most important recruitment factors.

Here’s a few things to think about:

Be Human. Your most important capital are your employees -- the people who comprise your organization and will help define its successes. When you’re interviewing people -- think about how to be human and have conversations that go beyond the conventional, tired question and answer sessions in a drab meeting room. Tailor conversations according to the role and invite team members who will collaborate with them into the dialogue during interviews.

Be Open. When talking to prospective employees, show them around the office and let them soak in what makes your company, culture and identity unique.

Think In New Ways. What makes your organization unique? How can you search out employees in new places. Go beyond job search sites and find potential candidates in unique places. Are there skilled workers discussing topics on social media channels like LinkedIn, or spending time writing quality answers on Quora -- then drop them a line and see what they’re looking for. Sourcing employees in meetups or other settings also could work.

Ask great questions: Here are some questions that will help assess culture fit in an interview:
  • Describe the work environment and culture where you are most productive
  • What type of culture do you thrive in? (Does the response reflect your organizational culture?)
  • When you work with a team, describe the role you are most likely to play (this is our favorite question!)
  • Walk me through a time where you went above and beyond for a customer
  • What values are you drawn to?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • How would you describe our culture based on what you’ve seen? Is this something that works for you?

It’s important to really listen to the answers you’ll get from these questions. Ask yourself (and have anyone from your team who is interviewing) if these answers align with your culture. Do the candidates’ values match up with your company values? Were there contradictions that came up? Or, were there questions that were not answered? In the end, be sure to follow your gut instinct. Visualize working with this person and ask yourself if they seem like a strong cultural match to your business.

Think out of the box: When you’re hiring your future cultural ambassadors, think about the new ways you can find your employees. AllBirds exemplifies this by always listing a “Dream Job” opening on their site that allows you to fill out an application for a role that’s not listed.

Job Descriptions that Mirror Culture. A cold job description simply can’t help showcase your culture to a prospective hire. For people who apply to Zappos, they’re instantly connected with what exemplifies their culture even as they’re reading the job description. They take that very seriously in their hiring -- the first interview is a cultural fit interview. Technical background matters very little here, what matters most is the candidate’s cultural fit. There’s a good lesson here: First you hire for culture, then you hire for skill. You can always train someone to be better, skill-wise.

Not properly hiring and vetting for culture can have a ripple effect of negative consequences like increased turnover, decreased productivity, a lack of direction, low morale, and worse, a negative reputation that impacts your ability to acquire talent in the future.

Culture is A Living Thing

Think of your culture like a living, breathing thing. It can grow and change over time. But, most importantly, it’s about respect and alignment to corporate missions and values.

This starts from the very first employee who is hired, and continues well after the company has been established. Be conscious of these concepts early and it will help set you up for success.

It’s especially important to instill these cultural values early, as the first 100 employees become your cultural ambassadors.

The people in the building, whether you’re there or not (or, as you grow well beyond just one office to a multi-state or multi-national presence) will keep this tradition going. Everybody needs to be on the same page.

Culture may start at the top, but everyone that works for your company has to “buy in.”


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